Steam banned this videogame after its developer posted Fake Reviews

From fake news to fake reviews, is anything real anymore? A game called Art of Stealth was getting slammed in their Steam reviews, so they took matters into their own clumsy hands.

A negative review can be just as helpful as a positive one. For everyone who leaves a negative comment on a game, there are 100 more people that had the same complaint but didn’t take the time to let the developer know. It’s better to know these issues as a developer, you can’t pay for feedback this honest, and it gives you a chance to fix the problems instead of just failing.

Love it or hate it, you’ve got to give the team at No Man’s Sky some props in hindsight. When they were initially slammed, they humbly put their heads down and got to work on releasing massive patches. The folks working on Art of Stealth, however, decided to go a different route.

image: good news gaming

image: good news gaming

Instead of taking the feedback from people who played their game, and immeditely getting to work to make adjustments and improvements, they decided to just try to drown out the negative reviews with positive ones instead… After flagging all of the negative reviews as “abusive”.

But what do you do when everyone hates your game, but you still want positive reviews? If you’re Matan Cohen, the guy behind this game, you allegedly create some new Steam accounts, leave fake reviews, and get even more bad press for your game.

Even more bad press?

Yep, this is the same studio that issued a DMCA takedown notice when Jim Sterling made a negative review video of their game. Do you want to ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE that everyone sees a negative review of your game? Then definitely take a page out of Cohen’s playbook and try to get the video taken down.

Here are Cohen’s complaints about the video:

“Jim Sterling has no respect to software engineers who learned programming in university for 5 years and work hard to create a good game.

Jim Sterling has no self-respect. He is going against Youtube rules and trying to damage a small team which is new in the industry. A pathetic bully.

Jim Sterling calls our work “Load of Crap”. He doesn’t respect our attempts to make a good game. He simply makes money by discredit other people’s works. I wonder if this worm can actually write a single line of code!”

So yeah, that’s what we’re dealing with here. Why does it feel like the least respectful bullies always seem to call other people out for being disrespectful bullies?

If anyone out there is thinking of putting together a little studio and making games, all you’ve got to do is basically the exact opposite of what these guys did.

  • Make a game that people enjoy,
  • Thank everyone for their feedback and learn from it,
  • Don’t try to censor criticism of your game,
  • Don’t take it so personally, and don’t personally attack reviewers.

Even after the initial SNAFU, it could have been salvaged with some humility and improvements of the parts of the game that people were criticizing. Even someone who left a nasty review would probably be willing to give it another shot, but instead they decided to burn all sorts of bridges in an industry they’re trying to break into it.

image: steam

image: steam store

Anyways, fast forward to now, and Cohen has been called out by Valve for creating multiple Steam accounts to try to drown out the negative reviews. Whether or not you agree about the quality of this game, trying to silence a critic is certainly a pathetic example of bullying. If you have thin skin, you shouldn’t be making games.

Here is a part of the statement from Valve: 

“appears to have created multiple Steam accounts to post a positive review for their own game,”

Let the irony soak in for a minute. A game called ART OF STEALTH was caught being really sloppy with their fake reviews.

Now, the game is removed from Steam, and it’s going to be an uphill battle to reclaim any kind of dignity or trust in this industry, both from reviewers and journalists, but also among gamers. It makes you wonder if they’ll even accept responsibility, or if they’ll try to find a way to blame this one on the people who didn’t enjoy the game.

Credit to everyone who takes a chance and puts something creative out there to see how the world reacts, but not every game is a hit and you’ve got to be ready for that, and you’ve got to handle it much better than this.